It’s Vacation Time For Mayor Coleman And We Are Paying For It!!

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By Denise Yost
Managing Editor, nbc4i.com
Published: May 11, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ohio—There’s no question the City of Columbus is suffering in uncertain economic times.
Every dollar spent is being examined, including business trips overseas.
Toward the beginning of the nation’s economic decline, the mayor and other city workers traveled to Israel to visit our sister city in an effort to bring tech jobs to Columbus.
Mayor Michael Coleman and his chief of staff were sponsored by the Jewish Federation and went free of charge, but two other city workers also went, using thousands of taxpayer dollars.
Tonight, NBC 4‘s Matt Alvarez gets answers directly from the mayor about the trip.
The City of Columbus has a current budget shortfall of $16 million and that budget crunch has lead to cuts in yard waste pick-up, to shuttering rec centers, from furloughs to hiring freezes. Now, there’s a move to raise taxes.

“The consequence of not achieving this tax will be devastating for our community,“ Coleman said.

Against that dramatic backdrop, the mayor has also worked to drum up business for the city and it has led to a trip nearly halfway around the world. But has the benefit of this mission justified the cost?

In April of last year, the mayor, his chief of staff, as well as education and business leaders traveled to Israel to see if technology companies in the region could bring business and jobs to Columbus.

We sifted through the records of the trade mission. Here’s what we found:

The mayor and chief of staff were sponsored by the Jewish Federation, but two development department employees went to Israel for advance work and the trip costing you, the taxpayer, $21,000.

“First of all, the reason we went to Israel is because it is a marketplace that is expanding technology and are focused on new products,“ Coleman said.

The mayor points to the following developments:

A major Central Ohio company says this trip has resulted in product development that is likely to result in millions of dollars of new lines.

Also, Columbus is marketing an Israeli electronic medical records company that is looking for a city in the U.S. to land.

The mayor also says there’s momentum building in the region to develop an investment fund to help attract businesses from Israel to Columbus.

In addition to that, a technology-based business incubator is also considering a move.

But it’s been more than a year since the mayor’s trip, and so far, lots of interest and speculation, but not a lot of jobs.

“I’m telling you, there’s a company that says there’s several product lines that will generate millions of dollars and jobs and opportunities in this community,“ Coleman said.

The mayor went on to say, it takes time to move international companies to Columbus. He also says due to the city’s current economic situation, he turned down two other International Trade Mission trips—one to Saudi Arabia, the other to China.

“We gotta fight for every job even if it’s international. Will I ever go to Israel again for the purpose of bringing jobs to the city of Columbus? Yes I will,“ Coleman said.

NBC 4 has learned Monday that an Israeli company that produces surgical items is outsourcing some jobs to Central Ohio—specifically Bridgehead Solutions will have gained ten jobs because of the mayor’s trip to the Middle East.

Below is a copy of the trip costs:

Business Mission to Israel

Planning Trip:
Airfare   $1,329.70
Partial – Living Expenses     $652.15
Ground Package   $2,992.00
International Cell phone     $115.00
Total Planning Trip:     $5,088.85

Airfare       $1,329.70
Ground Package   $2,980.12
Total Planning Trip:   $4,309.82

Total Planning Trip:   $9,398.67

Business Mission:

Airfare   $1,481.70
Ground Package   $3,583.00
Meal Allowance/Misc   $1,256.17
International Cell Phone     $105.07
Total Business Mission:   $6,425.94

Airfare   $1,647.70
Ground Package   $3,583.00
Cell Phone/misc.     $205.36
Total Business Mission:   $5,436.06

Total Business Mission: $11,862.00

Total Planning & Business Mission: $21,260.67

Who are the lucky 10??  Maybe they are 1 of the 1,500 teenagers Obama promised would have jobs this summer…

Ohio’s unemployment rate rose to a 25-year high in March as the state continued to lose jobs amid the recession, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said reported in April.
     
The state’s unemployment rate increased from a revised 9.5 percent in February to 9.7 percent last month, the highest rate since April 1984, department spokesman Brian Harter said.

Maybe Mayor Coleman is still star struck from his meeting with the anointed one!!  WAKE UP MIKE!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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